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Duo Fastos: Pre-historic Egyptian calendars that have shaped our modern concept of time

July 15, 2019 at 06:00 pm | History

Nii Ashaley Asé Ashiley

Nii Ashaley Asé Ashiley | Staff Writer

July 15, 2019 at 06:00 pm | History

Image source: nilescribes.org

Where do we draw the line between the Past, the Present and the Future?

We stand in the Now; that functional gap between the Past and the Future and from this standpoint, we may have observed that every tick of the clock nullifies our ‘Now’ into a Past and the same ‘Now’ into a Future simultaneously. So in this space, we witness the joint creation of not only two distinct time periods, but two worlds as well by the gain of each fleeting second. Can there be an explanation for this cosmic magic? Time as we know it is non-existent. Our conception of time is but a mental construct created to aid in the orderly presentation of history to Present generations so that in the nick of time, they can predict the future; safeguarding it or themselves against it whatever the case may be.

The Ancient Egyptians crafted their civilization from the area around the Nile river and as a people who were made by the Nile; given the noble fact that their entire culture was made possible by the presence of the Nile river and the generous riches her banks provided, it was necessary for their most advanced observers to study the rise and fall of the Nile, as well as the length of time elapsing between each rise and each fall. This observation of the River Nile’s activities is what led amongst other events and inventions to the creation of the ancient Egyptian calendars from which modern-day calendars derive their accuracy.

From their observance, ancient Egyptians also realized that the rise (overflowing of the Nile) of the Nile coincided with the rise of the star named; Sirius, close to Sun. During this period, the Egyptians took on other ‘menial’ jobs to cater for self and family as the farm fields were mostly covered by the Nile.

The Lunar calendar, as one of the calendars employed by the ancient Egyptians in ordering the courses of their events, was made up of 12 Lunar months. Each Lunar-month began on the period where the old moon crescent was no longer visible at dawn in the Eastern sky. The ancient Egyptians used this calendar in their ritualistic ceremonies.

Seeking to further organize their general day to day activities, the Solar calendar or Civil calendar was invented to serve that purpose. The invention of the Solar calendar was inspired by other than the reason aforementioned an observance of the number of days that passed between each star rising. Given the star named Sirius which was observed by the Egyptians to rise in tandem with the rise of the Nile, an estimated 360 days was observed to have passed between its solar rising bringing us an annual calendar of 360 days. It is reported that an additional 5-day balance was afforded the calendar to allow for civil and cosmic consistency so to speak.

The Solar or Civil calendar which has been dated to as far back as 3000 BC was structured as follows; 10 days made up 1 week, 3 weeks made up 1 month, 4 months made up 1 season and the 4 seasons in addition to the 5 added days made up a rounded 365 annual calendar. Each of the 3 seasons making up the ancient Egyptian calendar year signified the rise, recession and ‘emptying’ of the Nile in charting the course of their planting and harvesting seasons.

This calendar, as well as other time-telling inventions of the ancient Egyptians and other respectable civilizations pre-dating Egypt, served as formidable bases for our modern conception of time and time measurement as far as the days and seasons go. Time is a continuum secured in space, where it began and where it may end who can know? But the clock ticks nevertheless.

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